Sometimes building a network of coral reef advocates means getting wet—and on Maui recently, this meant that even the mayor dove in. This spring, field managers Liz Foote and Wesley Crile, along with partners from the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and the Division of Aquatic Resources, are holding a series of “snorkel tours” for local decision makers and other stakeholders. The first one was held at—and in—the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area. Before taking to the water, Liz spoke to the group about CORAL’s work with resorts to promote water conservation and support the county’s efforts to expand wastewater reuse infrastructure. A greater network of recycled wastewater pipes will ultimately improve local reef health and conserve potable water supplies.On the tour, participants saw reef conditions ranging from dead zones to healthy coral with a school of grazing surgeonfishes, a hopeful sign of recovery. Says Liz, “The mayor, who arrived barefoot with his mask and fins in a bucket, and who is an avid waterman, was eagerly engaged and interested in exploring solutions together. He is supportive of holistic watershed-based conservation strategies in line with the Hawaiian concept of ahupua‘a management.” Ahupua’a refers to the traditional Hawaiian concept of managing land and other natural resources from the mountains to the sea.CORAL’s Hawai‘i staff is also working with the 15-year old founder of ReefQuest, Dylan Vecchione, to build a “network” of coral reef images by taking overlapping photos of Maui reefs that will be used in ReefQuest’s online educational tool, the “Virtual Reef.” The Virtual Reef uses Microsoft’s Photosynth technology to create a three-dimensional rendering of the reef that can be used to monitor reef health over time (monitoring will take place on a biennial basis). Liz says she will use it in workshops and lesson plans for teachers as well as for speaking to decision makers. “It’s a great way for people who cannot or do not want to get in the water to see a reef,” she says.
On February 11 and 12, 2014, in Nadi, Fiji, The Pew Charitable Trusts, CORAL, and the Fiji Government hosted the Oceania Follow-up Regional Workshop on the Implementation of CITES Appendix II Shark Listings. With representatives from 11 countries in the Pacific and over 60 participants and observers, significant progress was made toward ensuring these newly listed species–oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, the porbeagle shark, and two species of manta rays–achieve the protection they desperately need.
The workshop kicked off in traditional Fijian fashion with an opening welcome from Mr. Samuela Namosimaluaa, Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, as well as with a video message from the CITES Secretary General Mr. John Scanlon. The panel included Imogen Zethoven, Director of Global Shark Conservation for The Pew Charitable Trusts acting as Chair of the meeting; Mr. Aisake Batibasaga, Principal Fisheries Officer for Fiji; Colin Simfendorfer Director of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group; Shaneen Coulson, CITES Scientific Authority of Australia; and Hugh Robertson, CITES Scientific Authority of New Zealand. Speakers also included Stan Shea—an expert in the shark fin trade in Hong Kong, Ian Freeman from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and Lindsay Chapman from Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
All of these speakers assisted in familiarizing participants with the context of these new listings and on the details of how to ensure they are implemented properly. But one presentation stole the show (and the fresh air from the room). Dr. Demian Chapman, aka the ‘”fin Doctor,” as he was aptly nicknamed after his demonstration, ensured that all attendees were familiar with how to identify the fins of these species. His hands-on approach involved displaying dried fins on all of the tables around the room, providing a very fragrant and visual reference.
Overall, the two-day workshop was filled with thoughtful questions and productive strategic planning. But most importantly, this meeting gave all of the CITES parties in the region the opportunity to convene and discuss what needs to be done regionally in order for the new listings to be effective. Some key conclusions that spanned the region were:
These conclusions will ideally translate into action on the ground, including a plan to address gaps in data, as well as a strategy for enforcement to be put in place prior to the September 14, 2014 implementation date.
CORAL looks forward to working with our partners in Fiji to ensure that the government is equipped and prepared to make the most of these landmark listings—which have the potential to significantly reduce shark mortality not only in the Pacific but around the world.
“Hotel X” could save between $137,000 and $147,000 on its water bill each year by using recycled water while at the same time helping preserve Maui’s coral reefs, according to the results of a water-use survey CORAL conducted recently. The survey was part of our campaign to assist hotel and condominium property managers as they prepare to access recycled (“R1”) water from the County of Maui’s new purple pipes; using recycled wastewater for landscaping and other purposes will reduce the amount of treated wastewater that ultimately reaches the reefs. The water-use survey results, plus tips for connecting to the recycled water system and navigating the permit process, were just published by CORAL in Recycled Water for Reefs/A Guide for West Maui’s Resorts and Condominium Properties (downloadable at www.coral.org/hawaiiwater). The guide also includes information about using recycled water for landscaping, as well as how to get involved in the broader watershed stewardship movement, the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, of which CORAL is a partner.
The County of Maui’s Steve Parabicoli says he’s excited to see Maui moving forward with recycled water use, not only for the benefits to reefs, but also because it will help extend Maui’s limited supply of potable water. “I’ve seen the need for years. We’ve looked at this as a wastewater disposal issue, but it should also be looked at as a drought-proof water supply issue.”
Lisa Paulson, Executive Director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, says she sees recycled water use directly benefiting both reefs and the local economy. “Our reefs are integral to everybody’s visit. I would say ninety percent of the visitors who come here are in the ocean. We all realize that if we don’t maintain our island, we’re going to lose the main reason people come to visit us.”
Thanks so much for your support of our clean water work in Hawaii--and best "fishes" for a wonderful New Year!
The biggest surprise for former CORAL Conservation Programs Director Rick MacPherson on his spring reef surveys off the north coast of Bali was that the nearshore reefs—which he expected to be teeming with life, “like the ‘Times Square’ of the Coral Triangle”—were instead very quiet. “Gone were the colorful reef fish grazing on algae on the coral rock, along with the usual underwater chorus of snaps and pops from their nibbling,” he recalls. The magnificent predator fish were gone too: no sharks, jack, snapper, or grouper.
Where he did find lots of fish, however, was displayed in front of the beach-long strip of restaurants in the village of Jimbaran just outside the Bali capital of Denpasar. There, hundreds of tourists were disembarking from tour buses and engaging in a feeding frenzy, selecting their favorite reef fish for dinner. Lobster and crab were on display as well. All of these fish and crustaceans play important ecological roles in keeping reefs healthy, so the fact that they were onshore, rather than on the reef, was disturbing. “The sheer volume surprised me,” says Rick. “I saw more grouper for sale on the beach than in one week of reef surveys.”
In nearby Amed, Reef Check Indonesia has worked for several years to discourage the practice of unsustainable reef fishing, while CORAL has complemented their efforts by building community support for a voluntary user fee system that would bring alternative income into the community through dive tourism. We have also been encouraging the community to take more ownership of their reef. In some other communities along the northern coast, locals have asserted their own access rights, establishing a “turf.” When poachers come in, they are chased out. In contrast to what he saw at Jimbaran, says Rick, those local “rights-based” fishery areas had visibly more abundant and intact fish communities. “It’s still obviously depleted, but you can see the recovery taking place.”
CORAL hopes that by building support from within communities like Amed, we can inspire replication of this kind of rights-based approach. At the same time, we plan to work with legislators and policymakers at the regency (local) or federal level to reinforce this type of ownership through legal decrees. Such a solution speaks to what CORAL is all about: bringing people—tourism operators, fishermen, NGO partners, government officials—together to reestablish healthy reefs.
In Honduras, the groundswell of interest in conserving coral reefs continues. CORAL’s Field Manager Jenny Myton recently appeared on “Frente a Frente,” the most viewed show on national television, to talk about Cordelia Banks, CORAL’s voluntary standards for sustainable marine tourism, CORAL and partners’ responsible seafood guide, and why reefs are important to every Honduran. Since her appearance on the show, she has been inundated with calls, including from government representatives. “The most important comments I’ve received are people telling me, ‘I now know why the reefs are so important’ or ‘I didn’t know you shouldn’t eat shark and turtle,’” says Jenny. “Now they know they have alternatives and can make better choices.”Jenny also led a scuba and sustainable marine recreation training for Tela’s municipal and federal government officials and a local NGO, Prolansate, at the request of the Mayor of Tela, who is interested in having the coral reefs of Capiro Banks declared a Site of Wildlife Importance before the end of the year. To that end, CORAL and the Healthy Reefs Initiative recently assessed the reef using the Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment standard protocols to verify and delineate its extent and condition—and to provide the necessary documentation and basis for designating the reef a Site of Wildlife Importance.
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Asst. Director of Development